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Archive for Monday, April 27, 2009

Health officials ask Kansans to be on guard for swine flu

Local health officials are encouraging vigilance after a recent swine flu outbreak.

April 27, 2009

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Swine Flu Pandemic

An outbreak of H1N1 Swine Flu was reported in Mexico in April 2009. By the end of May, it had spread across the U.S., with all 50 states reporting cases.

Local health officials are encouraging people to be alert after concerns about a deadly swine flu outbreak prompted the United States to declare a national health emergency.

“We don’t want people to be worrying unnecessarily, but … if they have traveled to areas where there have been known cases, to be especially vigilant about their own personal symptoms and get evaluated right away,” said Barbara Schnitker, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department director of clinic services.

Government health officials have confirmed 40 cases of swine flu across the country, including two in Kansas and others in California, New York City, Ohio and Texas.

A married Dickinson County couple were diagnosed with mild cases of swine flu, after the man had traveled to Mexico, the outbreak’s epicenter, on April 16. Dickinson County is about 115 miles west of Lawrence.

In Mexico, swine flu is close to becoming a pandemic. Officials there say the flu strain may have sickened 1,614 people since April 13, and may be responsible for as many as 149 deaths.

While the cases in the U.S. have been mild so far — only one requiring the patient to be hospitalized — Schnitker said there’s a lot of uncertainty about the “novel” flu strain and whether it will spread quickly.

“This swine flu situation is a new strain that we haven’t seen before, and so there isn’t a vaccine and we just don’t really know quite what direction it’s going to take,” Schnitker said. “Hopefully it will run its course and we won’t see a whole lot of cases, but we just really don’t know yet.”

Local health officials are preparing a response plan, in case the virus spreads to a large number of people quickly. On Monday, the local health department notified doctors, other health care providers, schools and child care facilities in the county about the disease and its potential.

They’re also reviewing their pandemic training materials, which they recently practiced, in the event drugs needed to be delivered to a high number of people quickly.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital officials will meet Tuesday morning to revisit their pandemic plan, said Tricia Thomann, infection control practitioner. They’ll discuss the types of personal protection equipment hospital employees would use and how patients would be quarantined.

While Thomann said the hospital doesn’t anticipate a pandemic, she said things can change and they must be prepared for the worst.

“We do take it very seriously,” Thomann said.

Health officials are asking people with symptoms of swine flu to contact their health department and stay home.

The Lawrence school district is encouraging nurses and staff to watch for symptoms among students. Students and teachers are also being asked to stay home if they get sick, said Sonja Gaumer, nursing facilitator.

In other parts of the country, public schools have been shut down where students have been diagnosed with the disease.

Kansas University officials said they have a flu response plan in place, if needed, and they sent an e-mail to students, encouraging them to take precautions to avoid spreading disease, like frequent hand washing.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment leaders said students who traveled to Mexico during spring break in mid-March would most likely be safe from the disease, which was first reported in late March.

University officials said they’re also monitoring developments related to the swine flu outbreak and will update those students scheduled to study abroad in Mexico as the situation develops.

A shipment of swine flu treatments should be arriving in the state in the next few days, Kansas emergency management officials said. Federal officials have authorized the release of flu-fighting drugs from the nation’s strategic stockpile because of the confirmed swine flu cases.

Comments

John Hamm 5 years, 8 months ago

What are the symptoms? Why not give a brief description?

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion will fill you all in. Because he's a public health expert. He can read an article from WHO, you know.

Bunny_Hotcakes 5 years, 8 months ago

@OonlyBonly Speaking in tongues, bleeding out orifices, oily discharge in your undershorts, and an inexplicable craving for cheetos.

Okay, not really. It's remarkably unsexy--it's just like human flu. http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

N-trenched, excellent advice. We should all be keeping out pork well-scrubbed.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

OB,

There have been a number of descriptions in the paper and other news sources.

I'm sure if you google it, you can find them.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 8 months ago

"What are the symptoms?"

.... and they say "no such thing as stupid question"

Music_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

OonlyBonly ...I'll be nice and answer your question...it's the swine flu but it's still a flu. Therefore they are common flu like symptoms...fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory issues, etc.

Lawrence_Local 5 years, 8 months ago

I love the picture of the man in Cairo spraying down the pigs with chemicals. NOW they're healthy!!!

gr 5 years, 8 months ago

"Uh, you people need to take a look at the most recent hews about the flu in the USA; "

Is hewing one of the symptoms?

"specifically California, where there have been two flu-related deaths and a state of emergency declared."

Two?

Are you serious?! That is that two...two... means there is a valid reason to panic?

States "declare" a state of emergency in order to get spendulus funds. You know, money out of the pockets of the rest of the country. To promote the idea that everyone pays for the benefit of the few. empT mentality.

How many people have died from this swine flu? How many people die from flu on the average year? This is starting to sound like global warming hype.
Because next, I know you'll respond that if there is two in this amount of time, then there will be more in such an amount of time, blah, blah, blah. Small amounts lead to a big disaster just like global warming [hype].

AverageCitizen 5 years, 8 months ago

I hate to call posters names like dumb, BUT there sure are a lot of dumb responses to this story. My mother had the Spanish flu in 1918 and survived it. Her father died from it. The world wide death total of this flu was estimated at 50 to 100 million people or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe. The pandemic is estimated to have affected up to one billion people: half the world's population at the time. There were 600,000 dead in the US alone! Did you get those totals?

They had NO drugs to treat it then and currently there are some new types of flu we have NO DRUGS for now. The time to take action is BEFORE the flu hits, not after it is here. Perhaps a better, more current example of preventive action is what we could have done to prevent AIDS had we known what to do before hand. Don’t let that lesson be lost!

Just because it is mild now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. This strain is constantly changing as it is passed along and could get to the point it will not respond to drugs and will be much more deadly. My pharmacist friend says there is not enough Tamiflu currently in the US to treat everyone should a pandemic hit us and they couldn't make it in time either. So, there isn’t always a cure. People, there are suggestions all over the paper/internet on what to do. The time to act is NOW not after it's underway. Don't panic but don’t take this lightly either.

Katara 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…

I have never suggested or indicated “panic”.

I have suggested preparation.

There IS a difference. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ While its true that you never once typed the word "panic" as something everyone should do, you certainly have been adding to the hysteria.

It has been pointed out to your repeatedly that face masks are ineffective and it has been explained to you as to why. If you need further reason, please peruse this article. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1174313/Swine-flu-panic-sweeps-UK-public-rushes-buy-facemasks-actually-work.html

On top of that, your incessant bragging about your "preparations" adds to the hysterical tone of your posts. 120 face masks, huh? That's effective. What are you going to do if you have a small cut that the virus can get through? Do you think your Blublockers are going to protect your eyes from unthinkingly rubbing them after touching something that may have the virus still on it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ AverageCitizen (Anonymous) says… Just because it is mild now, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. This strain is constantly changing as it is passed along and could get to the point it will not respond to drugs and will be much more deadly. My pharmacist friend says there is not enough Tamiflu currently in the US to treat everyone should a pandemic hit us and they couldn't make it in time either. So, there isn’t always a cure. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There actually is plenty of Tamiflu and there is one other anti-viral medication (don't recall the name offhand) that is effective against this particular strain of flu. The problem of the virus becoming resistant is that you have morons who decide to take it for every little sniffle that comes their way rather than actually being diagnosed with the flu and then taking the medication. This causes drug resistant strains and we've seen it happen already with baterias because of all the nervous nellies who insist that a doctor prescribe an antibiotic for their runny nose.

Alia Ahmed 5 years, 8 months ago

Here's a link about the two deaths in California, at least one of them is not related to swine flu.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518196,00.html

Katara 5 years, 8 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…

Katara:

It will be noted that your linked article does not show nor does it discuss N95 masks and does not specify what kind of masks are being discussed, but rather shows plain cloth surgical masks.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi

From the citation:

“Studies indicate that masks called N95 respirators, when properly used, filter germs from the breath and hamper the spread of flu.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Perhaps you should read the sentence that appeared right before the one you quote, Marion.

"Droplets of infected body fluids may carry flu when people cough or sneeze."

Now, generally flu is transmitted through the respiratory system but that is not the only way it is transmitted. You may not breath in the germs from an infected person but when you touch an item that an infected person has touched (and this strain of flu can live outside the body for hours - up to 6, IIRC) and you touch your eyes, your mouth, pick your nose, pick a scab, what have you, you give those germs a way inside your body.

How are your masks going to prevent that? I've asked you that several times and you seem to be unable to answer that question.

Further, the Bloomburg article goes on to say that both Tamiflu and Relenza react to the swine flu virus which you've still not addressed as well.

So continue to buy all the face masks you want, Marion, they are ineffective against all forms of flu transmission and are recommended only for people who must have close contact with sick individuals such as health professionals.

If you don't believe me, check with the Canadian article you linked to: "One of the questions the panel considered was whether face masks would offer protection in the event of a pandemic.

The verdict: yes, to an extent.

The report says a face mask — or personal protective respiratory equipment — is the final layer of protection when exposure to an infected person is required, or unavoidable. The primary elements of protection are "engineering and administrative controls.""

And what is even funnier about your insistence on face masks as adequate protection is that the Canadian article states that they would be more effective if the >>infected<<< person is wearing the face mask to prevent transmission.

I also hope that you are not planning on growing a beard because that will interfere with the effective of your high tech face mask as your Canadian article states it would interfere with the seal. Also since children are difficult to fit, they are ineffective for them as well and of course, they are part of the most vulnerable population when it comes to the flu viruses.

As for your last source quote,

“At the end of 2008, the Strategic National Stockpile reportedly contained 104 million N95 respirators..”....

you do realize that our government also recommended stocking up on duct tape and plastic tarps in order to protect oneself from a terrorist attack, right?

Christine Anderson 5 years, 8 months ago

Uh, Marion and Average Citizen actually make a lot of sense here. It is only logical to be aware and care about this, not to lose sleep over it, but to take what precautions you can. There are different "grades" of face masks. The ones you can buy in the store probably are not the best protection, but they would be better than none at all. Now, if one can get the type of "respirator mask" (which healthcare providers use when knowlingly caring for patients with T.B.), this offers better protection. But...generally these are only available to healthcare employees, and each person has to be fitted for them. That being said, Marion is correct in the list of symptoms. Far too many lay-people hear the word "flu", and they think of what is commonly called "stomach flu". There really IS no such thing; this is known as gastritis. While nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may accompany the swine flu, when we lose patients to flu, it is most often due to the respiratory complications.

The truly ignorant person says, "Swine flu, avian flu, they're all the same. Flu is flu, and nobody's gonna tell me otherwise." No, these flu strains are NOT all the same. Even with one particular virus, they mutate and adapt themselves to survive.

And for pete's sake, WASH YOUR HANDS! After you toilet, after you sneeze, after you blow your nose, after you pick your nose, your butt, or whatever. Don't sit in the dr's office or the E.R. coughing without COVERING YOUR MOUTH! (And then go wash your hands!)

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